The European Conservatives and Reformists Party condemns the recent arrest of Ryhor Kastusioŭ in Minsk on the 12th of April 2021. The leader of the BPF Party (formerly known as the Belarusian Popular Front) was presumed to have been picked up by Belarusian security forces as part of a recent string of political arrests by the Lukashenko regime.
Mr. Kastusioŭ has been the leader of the BPF since 2017, the same year that the Party joined the European Conservatives and Reformists Party. BPF activists, along with a number of other opposition political parties, have been subject to harassment by the Lukashenko regime for a number of years, most recently for their involvement in the protests that have taken place across the country since the last election. The BPF had to abstain from nomination of its own candidate because there were no minimal conditions for free campaigning and free and fair elections.
Since August 2020, mass protests have broken out across the country in opposition to alleged electoral offenses by the Lukashenko regime. The Government has been accused to rigging the elections in favor of President Lukashenko, who has governed the country since 1994.
Former BPF Leader Alaksiej Janukievich said: “The arrest of my friend and BPF Leader Ryhor Kastusioŭ is only the latest example of how truly authoritarian Lukashenko has become. We in Belarus need the full support of the European Union in our campaign for a free and fair Belarus. The EU must call for the release of Rhyor Kastusioŭ and all other political prisoners.”
ECR Party Vice President Anna Fotyga MEP urged the international democratic community to take all appropriate actions to ensure that there won’t be impunity for human rights abusers and those responsible for the suffering of the Belarussian people: “The arrest of Mr. Kastusioŭ is just the latest in a long line of dictatorial actions carried out by Lukashenko. Since last year’s fraudulent election, we have seen the country slip further and further into authoritarianism. It’s time for Lukashenko to go – and until he does, he and his regime must be subject to the harshest possible measures from the EU. I call on all member states and political parties to support the campaign for a free Belarus.”